A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester: The Show Must Go On.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester
Photo. Kanata Theatre

 

A Year in the life of  Eddie Jester by T. Gregory Argall,  Kanata Theatre, Directed by Stavros Sakiadis

A Year in the Life of Eddie Jester  underlines the dictum that the show must go on, however extreme the situation. And in the case of stand-up comedian Eddie Jester, lying comatose and near death in a Toronto hospital room, the situation is about as extreme as it can be. Yet, he keeps his act alive as his wife and girlfriend (both pregnant), his incompetent agent and randy doctor and nurses check on his deteriorating condition.

Clever and amusing as playwright T. Gregory Argall’s concept for this 2002 play is, neither the script nor the production maintains sufficiently high momentum to keep the laughs coming without allowing time for consideration. For example, it is difficult to accept that Eddie’s wife Susan and girlfriend Jennifer will move from total hostility to such close friendship that they move in together before the year is out.

In addition, the pace of the Kanata Theatre production, as directed by Stavros Sakiadis, is a little too leisurely. It gives too much time for audiences to think about unlikely circumstances and such one-note characters and characterizations as that offered by the smarmy Dr. Jimmy (Ian Gillies) and the uncertain agent Max (Jamie Hegland).

The three female characters are written as tools of the plot rather than as solid individuals. All three actors, Katherine Williams as wife Susan, Lindsay LaViolette as girlfriend Jennifer and Jessica Lauren Doucet as nurses Jayne and Heather are quite effective, given the limitations of the script.

On the other hand, the very funny sparkle of the athletic performance from Josh Sparks in the title role is worth the price of admission. His transitions from delivering his act in a smoky hall and involving the audience to returning to disembodied spirit status in the hospital room are delivered refreshingly smoothly. And it is not difficult to suspend disbelief when Sparks’ characterization is so convincing.

Set design by Jim Clarke, lighting by Torin Zaugg and sound by Neihls Jacobson and other technical backup offer the required contrast between the two locations. But A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester would have been stronger if this relatively short play had not seemed much longer than it is, leaving me wishing that the machine that announced Eddie’s end had flatlined sooner.

A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester continues at Kanata Theatre to September 30.

Director: Stavros Sakiadis

Set: Jim Clarke

Lighting: Torin Zaugg

Sound: Neihls Jacobson

Costumes: Heather Hogan

Cast:

Eddie………………………………..Josh Sparks

Announcer/patient………………….Gabriel DeRooy

Susan………………………………..Katherine Williams

Jennifer……………………………..Lindsay LaViolette

Max…………………………………Jamie Heglund

Dr. Jimmy…………………………..Ian Gillies

Nurse Jayne/Heather………………..Jessica Lauren Doucet

 

 

 

 

A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester underlines the dictum that the show must go on, however extreme the situation.

 

And in the case of stand-up comedian Eddie Jester, lying comatose and near death in a Toronto hospital room, the situation is about as extreme as it can be. Yet, he keeps his act alive as his wife and girlfriend (both pregnant), his incompetent agent and randy doctor and nurses check on his deteriorating condition.

 

Clever and amusing as playwright T. Gregory Argall’s concept for this 2002 play is, neither the script nor the production maintains sufficiently high momentum to keep the laughs coming without allowing time for consideration. For example, it is difficult to accept that Eddie’s wife Susan and girlfriend Jennifer will move from total hostility to such close friendship that they move in together before the year is out.

 

In addition, the pace of the Kanata Theatre production, as directed by Stavros Sakiadis, is a little too leisurely. It gives too much time for audiences to think about unlikely circumstances and such one-note characters and characterizations as that offered by the smarmy Dr. Jimmy (Ian Gillies) and the uncertain agent Max (Jamie Hegland).

 

The three female characters are written as tools of the plot rather than as solid individuals. All three actors, Katherine Williams as wife Susan, Lindsay LaViolette as girlfriend Jennifer and Jessica Lauren Doucet as nurses Jayne and Heather are quite effective, given the limitations of the script.

 

On the other hand, the very funny sparkle of the athletic performance from Josh Sparks in the title role is worth the price of admission. His transitions from delivering his act in a smoky hall and involving the audience to returning to disembodied spirit status in the hospital room are delivered refreshingly smoothly. And it is not difficult to suspend disbelief when Sparks’ characterization is so convincing.

 

Set design by Jim Clarke, lighting by Torin Zaugg and sound by Neihls Jacobson and other technical backup offer the required contrast between the two locations. But A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester would have been stronger if this relatively short play had not seemed much longer than it is, leaving me wishing that the machine that announced Eddie’s end had flatlined sooner.

 

A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester continues at Kanata Theatre to September 30.

 

Director: Stavros Sakiadis

Set: Jim Clarke

Lighting: Torin Zaugg

Sound: Neihls Jacobson

Costumes: Heather Hogan

 

Cast:

Eddie………………………………..Josh Sparks

Announcer/patient………………….Gabriel DeRooy

Susan………………………………..Katherine Williams

Jennifer……………………………..Lindsay LaViolette

Max…………………………………Jamie Heglund

Dr. Jimmy…………………………..Ian Gillies

Nurse Jayne/Heather………………..Jessica Lauren Doucet

 

 


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